Anterior Cervical Discectomy

For those people who are suffering from severe neck pain or any problem in the cervical spine then an anterior cervical discectomy may be needed. This article will discuss what this surgical procedure is all about.

The Cervical spine is one of the sections that comprise the human spine. Cervical spine starts at the base of the skull which supports the weight of the head. The cervical spine consists of seven vertebrae and in between of these vertebrae is a disc which serves as shock absorbers and which allow the movement of the head.

Most people nowadays suffer from pain in their arms or neck and the common cause of the pain is herniation of the disc. This occurs when the disc tears out thus putting pressure on the nerve root resulting to pain in arms, shoulders, neck and sometimes in the hands. Cervical disc herniation can happen due to aging or sudden injury or trauma from accident.

Most case of cervical pain can be treated non-surgically but then some cases also need surgery to relieve pain. The most common surgical procedure for cervical pain is anterior cervical discectomy. Its purpose is to ease out pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots by eliminating the herniated disc or ruptured disc.

The anterior discectomy surgery is done through a small incision in front of the neck (anterior). Soft tissues are set aside and the disc is removed creating a space between vertebrae. To maintain the normal height of the spine the surgeon may choose to fill the space with a bone graft. This bone graft is a small piece of bone usually taken in the patient’s hip or from a bone bank. This will fill the space and eventually fuse the vertebrae together. Other instruments might be added to ensure stability of the spine. Cervical Discectomy surgery with fusion is generally successful and produces excellent results. More than eighty percent of cases have excellent results with the surgery (Spine 1990).

Pain medications are usually given to patients after surgery to manage the pain felt especially in the incision site. Most patients are already up and moving within a few hours after surgery. This is actually recommended to keep normal circulation of the blood and thus prevent blood clots.

Patients need to stay in the hospital before they are discharged. Patients are given instructions on what to do when home and this should be followed carefully to ensure fast recovery. Any signs of infection should be readily reported to the doctor. Maintaining a healthy well- balanced diet and rest is important for fast healing and recovery.